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Class 2

Choosing an apiary site

Acquiring equipment

Purchasing bees

Choosing an apiary site

High and dry

  • Avoid brooks and low lying areas that can flood
  • But… you also need a water source

Sources of Water

  • Brooks & Ponds
  • Bird baths
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Swimming pools (but not your neighbor’s swimming pool!)

You may have to provide a source

  • Tub with rocks & pebbles

South Facing

  • Southern exposure is best
  • Sun is good
    — Thermal gain in cool weather
    — Partially shaded; especially in the hot afternoon is a plus
  • Sometimes you have to trade off conflicting goals
    — For example, when south faces your neighbor’s yard you may have to face your entrance West or provide a barrier that forces flight upwards

Be a Good Neighbor

  • Do you tell them you have bees?
  • Understand that your bees will spot their laundry, cars and house siding
  • Tell them about the benefits of pollinating their garden
  • Give them honey when you can!
  • Wind Barriers
  • Take advantage of barriers such as stone walls, corners of buildings, tree lines, or you can even surround the hives with bales of hay

Acquiring equipment

  • Bee Suppliers
    — Catalog & Mail Order
    — Local Beekeepers Who Make Equipment
  • New Equipment Is Disease Free
  • Be Careful When Buying Used Equipment
  • You Can Make Your Own Equipment


Purchasing bees

  • Packaged Bees
    — Place orders early – January to March
  • What race do you buy?
    — Back in the old days there were just two: Italians – most common – and Caucasian
  • Today Caucasians are no longer readily available but there are several additional:
    — New World Carniolan
    — Russian – Russian Hybrid
    — Minnesota Hygienic
    — Other strains developed by breeders


Traits to consider

  • Gentle
  • Productive
  • Hygienic Behavior
    — Mite resistant
    — Pest resistant
    — Disease resistant
  • Some are noted for making propolis
  • Wintering Characteristics
  • Spring Expansion
  • Prone to Swarm

Posted in Courses.

Class 3




Equipment needs vary with the size of your operation, number of colonies, and the type of honey you plan to produce. The basic equipment you need are the components of the hive, protective gear, smoker and hive tool, and the equipment you need for handling the honey crop. The hive is the man-made structure in which the honey bee colony lives. Over the years a wide variety of hives have been developed. Today most beekeepers in the United States use the Langstroth or modern ten-frame hive. A typical hive consists of a hive stand, a bottom board with entrance cleat or reducer, a series of boxes or hive bodies with suspended frames containing foundation or comb, and inner and outer covers.


Hive components. Click here for a PDF version of this image. HiveComponents.jpg
The hive body assembly hive.jpg
The frame assembly frame.jpg


  • Allow yourself plenty of time. An air compressor and crown stapler will make quick and easy work out of nailing tasks
  • You’ll need
    — Hammer & Square
    — Glue
    — Flat work surface
    — Good light
  • Paint and Wood Preservatives
    Any color will do
    Latex paint or linseed oil

Basic frame layout and assembly

Basic frame layout and assembly

Posted in Courses.

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Bees and Backyard Pollinating – 2011 Courses

DSC03997 2.JPGIn 2010, Mark Robar – with some small help from myself – presented a “beta”
class to a small audience. The class talked about pollination in New
England; specifically how the backyard beekeeper with just a few hives could
usefully work with a local farmer to aid pollination – improving the crop
quality without harming the bees.

The course response was good, although over the seasons last year only one
or two hives were actually placed.

In 2011 we have a chance to do this again, with a larger audience, and
earlier in the year.

The course will consist of:

  • Two 1 day sessions. One in Jan/Feb, the other March/April, probably going
    from 10am – 3.30pm.

  • One or more field trips over the summer

In the daily sessions we’ll talk about backyard pollination requirements and
techniques – and of course we will be distracted by general-knowledge Q/A
concerning bees in general :)

The field trips will be to place and remove hives, and perfom crop
inspections after pollination. We’ll expect to talk with the
farmer/cropgrower about previous crops and perform some analysis over the
year to see if deliberate pollination has improved the crop.

The location for the daily sessions will probably be The Grange on Rte 138.
Date TBA.

The courses are being aided financially by RIRDC and as a result we are able
to offer this at $30 per person – this covers both days and the field trips.

The only limitation is the number of seats available in the final venue.

Do NOT send money now! Please reply ASAP if you are interested in attending.
If you attended last years small group you are invited to attend this year
free of charge. Please indicate in your reply that you did so.

Please send an email to me, Mike Southern if you’d like to be kept informed as I arrange final details

Posted in Courses.

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MAAREC’s Pollination Pages

Posted in Features.

ABC Local Pollination Course

March 6 – Saturday – will be the date of the first of our pilot Pollination Classes.

Saturdays course will start at 11am and the location will be Meadowbrook Farm. This is on Rte 138, Hope Valley. That’s I-95, exit 3 A or B for Rte 138 East. The farm is one mile from the exit and on the right as you head east.

There will be a second meeting on this short course, then other meetings as we move through spring. Dates to be confirmed. Local pollination needs active involvement and adaptation to locality and the weather – we’re ALL going to learn!

Posted in Courses.

The Garden

Posted in Features.

USDA National Animal Identification System

This report was sent to the Organic Beekeepers email list, May 25 2009.

Purported Listening Session–First of 14

The first USDA National Animal Identification System purported listening
session took place on May 14th, 2009 at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Farm Show Complex. It was scheduled during the busiest time of the year,
in the middle of a rainy spring planting and birthing season, yet many
took time out of their farming schedules, or took off from work to attend.
Attendees came from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio,
New York, and one woman even flew in from Oregon to make sure their
opposition was recorded. There are very few of these purported listening
sessions scheduled around the country, as of the beginning of the
session only 7 had been scheduled and posted to the USDA site. The
torrential rains which hit us slowed down many of us, and prevented many
others from being able to get through at all.
The USDA personnel did not wear badges or name tags, yet attendees
signing in were given a folder which included a name tag which said,
“Hello, my name is…” One person there felt that if the USDA personnel
were not ‘tagged’, then attendees didn’t need ‘tagging’ either. It would
very soon become apparent just who was who. One little girl wrote
“NONAIS” instead of her name, her older brother wrote “NOUSDA” on his
name tag. He handed it to one of the USDA employees sitting at the press
table on his way out at the lunch break, and refused to return for the
afternoon ‘breakout’ session.
Those in attendance were selected by lottery for an opportunity to speak
during the morning session, many more numbers were called than there
were people present, and yet there was a bit of a verbal scuffle that
broke out over one attendee’s 1st Amendment Rights. Darol Dickinson of
Ohio made a 7 hour drive to attend this listening session, he had
preregistered and had received his ticket and had waited patiently for
his number to be called up. At one point one gentleman crossed the aisle
and handed him his ticket, number 87, which had just been called, and
asked Mr. Dickinson to speak for his three minute time segment, as he
did not wish to speak.
When Mr. Dickinson stood up before the mikes in the lineup of those
whose numbers had been called up, he was accosted by a blonde, suited
woman who insisted his number had not been called and he was not going
to be allowed to speak. He felt that he had been singled out to be
prevented from speaking, as his number, 63, was never called. He showed
her that the number in his hand had in fact been called, and stated
politely that he had made a 7 hour drive to speak to them. When his turn
at the mike came, he began reading his prepared presentation. At 2.5
minutes, per the modus operandi of the day, the USDA moderator informed
him that his three minutes were nearly up. He asked that she restart the
clock to allow him to finish, as he had his tickets, and thus had three
minutes plus another gentleman’s three minutes for a total of 6 minutes
which he needed in order to finish his presentation.
Things looked bad for him as the USDA officials tried to argue him down,
but the crowd spoke out insisting that he be allowed to finish his
The room was lined on both sides with security guards who had been
instructed to be on alert if the blonde woman stood up and approached
anyone, and if that person refused her instructions they were to
surround them and remove them from the room. All these guards were not
sufficient to intimidate those proud farmers and ranchers, the backbone
of the nation was in clear evidence on that day. The crowd was a
peaceful group of people who clearly had deep religious principles,
however they were almost unanimously adamantly opposed to NAIS and
determined to make sure that everyone there had their chance to speak.
They wanted to hear, and they wanted the nation to hear what Darol
Dickinson had to say.
Darol Dickinson received an apology from the moderator, saying she had
made a mistake, and he finished his comments. After he sat down, a USDA
official spoke up sternly to say that there would be no more ceding of
time to anyone else for the rest of the session. Apparently they did not
like what he had to say and wanted to make sure that they didn’t have to
‘listen’ to anymore of that sort of thing.
There was a contingent of Amishmen in attendance, and during the breaks
one of them was heard to say that they had been told that 90% of the
farmers of Pennsylvania had already enrolled in NAIS, and was delighted
to hear that in fact that was a lie, as in fact 97-99% of all livestock
producers and animal owners are opposed to the system.
The previously voluntary disease control programs have been rolled over
into NAIS without notifying the participants that they are now under a
‘new international contract’, instead of the US Constitution, and what
the terms of that contract actually entail. One of the attendees
actually entered the comment that her husband had enrolled their
property based on erroneous information and without her knowledge or
consent. He now regrets that action, and they like many others in their
situation, would like to be removed from the program.
Other attendees ranged from mothers with babes in arms, children and
young adults who see in this NAIS the death of their future dreams of
living close to the land, retired farmers speaking out on behalf of
their heirs, producers from across the agricultural industry and a wide
spectrum of species interests. Market masters and professionals from
many industries with interest in small farms, as well as consumers were
in attendance to have their complaints (and the complaints of members of
their organizations) against the NAIS entered into the federal record.
Some were there to ask where their previous letters opposing the NAIS
were recorded, which the USDA personnel had no knowledge and could not
It is a matter of grave concern when isolated populations are deceived
into enrolling in a program with such grave conflicts with certain
‘inalienable’ rights, recognized and guaranteed under our United States
Constitution as well as state sovereignty, and many states’ own
There were about four or five people there to beg almost piteously for
the USDA to immediately implement the mandatory NAIS, however when they
stood up at the mike they introduced themselves and named the
organization which they were there to represent,…each of those
organizations have received huge sums of bribe money in the form of
“Cooperative Agreements” to promote the mandatory NAIS. Ms. Joyce Bupps
from IDAIRY, (over $1 million) The Holstein Association, (also a
“Cooperative Agreements” beneficiary), Dave McIhenny representing
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and others were there to help try to ‘reach a
Toward the end of the afternoon breakout session, an 11 year old little
girl (from an independent diversified farmstead in south central PA)
determinedly held her hand high for a tiring three minutes, before being
recognized by one of the facilitators. She stood up to say, after a
minute or so of looking for and finding her shy little voice, “I will
not participate in NAIS. I have my rights. I have the United States
Constitution at my back.” The room was silent for a moment, then applause.
During this session, future USDA listening meetings on NAIS were
announced, the woman did not have her list before her, stated that 6
more had been scheduled and was able to name off Jefferson City, MO, NM,
Rapid City, South Dakota, and Florida.
Monday, May 18: Pasco, Wash.
Wednesday, May 20: Austin, Texas
Thursday, May 21: Birmingham, Ala.
Friday, May 22: Louisville, Ky.
Wednesday, May 27: Storrs, Conn.
Monday, June 1: Loveland, Colo.
June 9, Jefferson City, MO
Rapid City, SD (June 11)
Albuquerque, NM (June 16)
Riverside, CA (June 18)
Raleigh, NC (June 25)
Jasper, FL (June 27)

Showing up at these sessions is of the utmost importance in order to
make sure that they are conducted with integrity. Farmers, ranchers and
consumers have been writing, calling and emailing the USDA, state vets,
and legislators since the original planning documents were leaked from a
secret meeting in Chicago years ago. At one point the USDA called for
letters, thousands wrote, yet the USDA officials who were asking for
those letters and were present at this first ‘listening session’, were
unable to even remember that they had asked for those letters, let alone
what happened to them.
The citizens of this nation have for far too long left the business of
politics to the politicians under the mistaken assumption that they were
tending to their own business. It has become clear even to children that
tending to business includes supervision and redirection of those hired
(via our votes) to be our delegates to represent us in the legislative
process,…less the local producers as well as our nation, be legislated
out of existence. Call up and schedule a face to face meeting with your
legislators at both the state and federal levels, (face to face meetings
are the most effective method of communicating with your legislators,
according to this reporter’s own legislators at both state and federal
levels.) …and show up at one or more of these sessions.
The Delphi Technique was utilized at this purported listening session. A
google search turns up the information that it is a technique used
successfully in other venues and other countries as well as in the US to
deal with groups of uneducated people who may have strong emotions and
opposing opinions. A facilitator is utilized to try to lead the
discussion in smaller “breakout” groups which will later be examined by
‘experts’ who will pull the comments collected into a cohesive ‘consensus’.
Well, there was the consensus of those who had taken money from the USDA
to promote NAIS.
And then there was the consensus from the Amishmen, the other religions,
the local farmers’ markets, and all the other consumers and producers in
attendance, …that the USDA should scrap the program and allow the free
market to dictate traceability. Those that wish to enter into
international contracts may be free to do so, those that do not sell to
those markets would not have to bear the crushing costs of that
The only question that remains is …was the USDA listening to the
consensus among the expert testimonies provided by the farmers,
producers, and consumers present at this, the first of 14 scheduled
purported listening sessions, or will USDA ‘experts’, esconsed in their
ivory towers far above those of us who live the real life, provide their
own version of ‘the consensus’?…”

Posted in Features.

My double-nuc

This hive is my double-nuc; two 5 frame nucs stapled one on top of the other, and filled with super-deep foundation-less frames. The frames are made to extend down the depth of the two nucs and so provide the colony floor-to-ceiling brood comb – comb without the frame break encountered with two separate deeps.

Posted in Features.

Washington County Fair

Washington County Fair

Rhode Island’s largest agricultural event, the Washington County Fair is a five day Fair (Wednesday through Sunday) that takes place August 12th – 16th, 2009. One of the biggest draw to the Fair is today’s Country Music Stars.

Admission includes all daily concerts, special acts, access to the giant midway (all ride tickets separate), with a kiddy land area, a fireworks display, all exhibits and displays, all pulls, a farm museum and much, much more!

The Washington County Fair is a non-Profit organization owned and operated by volunteers of the Washington County Pomona Grange!

Posted in Features.

Veggie Mania

Veggie Mania
June 6th & 7th 10am-4pm
Learn how to have a fabulous and productive vegetable garden with American Gardening Icon, Roger Swain.

•The Wonderful World of Tomatoes
•Natural Approaches for Disease & Insect Control in the Garden
•Soil Preparation •Composting
•Fruits for your backyard garden & Pruning
The URI Master Gardeners will be joining us to offer expert gardening advice.
Other Topics:
Worm Composting, Rain Barrels, Canning & Freezing, and Bee Keeping
Delectable Edibles from Sweet Cakes & Crazy Burger!
Customer Appreciation Days
July 3rd, 4th, & 5th
In appreciation of our customers’ loyalty and continued support of local agricultural and open space, we would like to say thank-you by offering 10% off of all your purchases during these days.

Posted in Features.